The trust has three clear layers of Governance:
The legal accountable body for Nova Education Trust is the board of trustees. They are responsible to the Secretary of State for Education for the effectiveness of each of the trust schools. Trustees have established one local governing board for each school, with a key role to provide local input into school plans, budgets, community and stakeholder engagement and to review alignment with Nova strategy, approach, ethos and vision. This approach enables schools to still belong to their communities and for governors to be significant and valued partners in the life of their school.
All those involved in the three layers of governance are provided with regular access to continual professional development through our membership of The Key for Governors, The National Governance Association and Trust Governance Professionals.
External Review of Governance
Nova Education Trust underwent an External Review of Governance (ERG) during April and May 2023, with the final report published on the 7 June 2023. The review was voluntarily offered to the trust by the East Midlands Regional Group of the DfE and was undertaken by a National Leader of Governance.
The trust is intending to explore opportunities to expand where expansion will support high achievement of both the schools joining the trust, and the trusts’ existing schools, and where expansion will not jeopardise the future financial stability of the trust.
The ERG assessed every element of governance across the trust through a variety of evidence sources which included interviews and observations of trust meetings. The review concluded that the trust has a highly effective governance procedures and structures that provides Nova Education Trust with a strong foundation on which to expand.
The main findings are:
- The trust has worked hard over the last few years to ensure that its governance arrangements are effective.
- The trust has secured an open and transparent governance culture; recruited trustees who are committed, knowledgeable in a range of relevant fields, and highly skilled in relation to governance.
- The trust has secured a strong governance and relationships bedrock upon which its current work, and further development is building.
- The trust has a clear strategic framework which underpins its work. The framework incorporates statements of mission, vision and values.
- The governance of the trust across all layers of governance is supported by a skills and dedicated governance professional. The trustees have full confidence in her capacity to provide independent guidance and counsel as required.
- The trust has a culture of valuing governors.
- The trust board has a strong working relationship with a range of key stakeholders. They commission annual surveys of pupil, parent and staff views and use these to inform their governance work.
- The trust board has processes in place to oversee, and assure itself about the fidelity of, the trust’s risk identification and management processes. The risk management process has been subject to independent third-party scrutiny. The internal scrutiny programme overseen by the audit and risk committee has focussed on a range of key potentially high-risk areas.
- The trustees have a clear line of sight in relation to the performance of its schools and the interventions used to secure any required improvement.
- The trust’s financial governance is strong, and the trustees are clear about their responsibility for financial probity.
- LGB governors know their schools and undertake visits during the school day. Those governors with link governor responsibilities visit their schools with a set of clear foci related to their areas of interest.
- The trustees are all highly competent in their governance roles and bring a range of professional expertise, and differing perspectives to the work of the board.
- The members, trustees and the executive have worked hard over the last few years to ensure that the culture of the trust is open and transparent. They have succeeded in achieving this. The relationships between the trustees, and between the trustees and the executive, are professionally respectful and underpinned by a mutual recognition of their different roles, the validity of different perspectives and their joint enterprise with respect to the quality of education for pupils. There is a strong sense of teamwork between trustees and between the trustees and the executives.
- Trustees understanding of their legal, regulatory, contractual, and financial responsibility is supported effectively by the governance professional.
- The boards responsibilities regarding SEND and safeguarding are robustly enacted though effective oversight and assurance at trust board and LGB levels, and effectively supported by the executive. Likewise, health and safety oversight and assurance are robust. The key role of link trustees and governors is central to the robustness of this work.
The review identified areas that the trust is attending to in order to further streamline processes and add greater clarity to the role of Local Governing Boards and their relationship with the work of the trust board.